Capping bets or bet-capping is as old as the game of blackjack itself. Since it first appeared on the smooth green felts of Nevada’s casinos, those players seeking a bit of a dishonest edge have taken to cap a few bets here and there. Bet-capping is simply adding chips to an already-winning bet before the dealer pays it, or doing the same when a player thinks he has a good-enough advantage to make the bet-cap worth the effort.
An example of this would be a bet-capper holding a hard-twenty against a dealer up-card of eight, in which the player would win the hand better than eighty percent of the time. The only drawback to doing this when the hand is not yet decided is that the cheat can get burned by a dealer drawing out to twenty-one. On the other hand, blackjack cheats often make their move at this juncture because it is the only moment he can get away with his cap-move.
This is the rawest, most amateurish method of blackjack-cheating although when done with skill it is highly effective. The danger facing the cheat here is that capping is usually done in repetitive hands, which opens up the cheater to serious cheating charges when caught only once. Casino surveillance can easily run back the video footage on the table in question and gather evidence of the bet-capper plying his craft on several occasions, so the guilty party cannot claim it was a one-time desperate shot.
This method is similar to bet-capping with one major difference: the past-poster actually waits to be paid on a winning hand and then switches the chips after the dealer pays the winning bet, then claims the dealer made a mistake on the payoff. An example of this would be a player making an original bet of $10 with two $5-chips. Upon being paid he would then remove that original bet and switch-in a new bet of $505, consisting of a $500-chip on the bottom and a $5-chip on top. A good blackjack “mechanic” can have a better than 90% success-rate with this move.
This may seem unbelievable to you but it was the bread-and-butter move of my personal casino-cheating career for twenty-five years. What makes it work is that the player’s hands are out switching the bet when hands are permitted to be out on the layout. It simply looks like he is going out to pick up his payoff, when the switch is made in a split-second.
However, the totality of the move it is a little more complicated and some basic steps are necessary to successfully pull it off. First, you must have hidden $500 chips that you expose as you make your claim that the dealer paid you wrong. Then you must bet back after you are paid in order to calm down casino personnel after they have paid you. You might bet back $105, one $100-chip with a $5-chip on top, which shows the same betting pattern of a high-denomination chip underneath a $5-chip as your switched-in past-post bet did. This is a psychological factor that makes your past-posted bet more believable and reduces the heat when personnel are suspicious.
Card-marking, which has always been a mainstay of poker-cheats, has its fair share of enthusiasts at the blackjack table as well. It is most easily done with handheld games where the players are permitted to hold their cards, thus having the chance to easily put marks on them. The modern method of marking cards now involves a special ink that can only be seen when wearing special contact lenses. Glasses are not used since their lenses would be tinted in a suspicious hue.
Marking cards is usually done via team play, where one or more persons mark the cards while one or more persons play the hands with the edge. The strategy is overwhelmingly favorable to the cheats, but they must camouflage their play and not be correct every time when it comes to hitting or standing on player-bustable hands, much the same when hole-carding blackjack games.
As the availability of handheld blackjack games is currently dwindling across the world´s blackjack tables, clever card-markers have found ways to go out and mark cards that are dealt face-up out of the card-shoe and cannot legally be touched by the receiving players. One such way of doing this is while tossing the dealer a chip, be it for a change in denomination or a simple tip. The player in one single motion gives the card a slight nick with the chip before releasing it to the dealer.
Some casinos possess infra-red cameras that can detect the “invisible” markings but few professional card-marking rings are busted in spite of this.
This article was written by former professional casino cheater, Richard Marcus. Richard Marcus is also the author of American Roulette, a controversial book that reveals how he and other professional cheaters ripped off casinos.
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